When I first made the decision to become a full time chef,
I enrolled in a part time professional cooking school in Los Angeles. I had been working in people’s homes for many years, supporting my less than abundant acting career with something that I could always do pretty easily – cook. In my thirties I realized that the thrill and challenge that I felt producing meals for clients was much greater than the one I felt on the less than occasional commercial booking and I decided to put all my eggs in the chef basket, if you will. But first, I thought, I had better make sure I know what the heck I’m talking about, and started evening classes.
I remember waiting on my first night for class to begin. I sat nervously on a couch near the entranceway to the workroom. I thumbed my way through a cooking magazine (Eating Well) and found this recipe. It is a classic example of the kind of food I think we all crave this time of year – fresh, clean and a little devilish. I didn’t know if I had the chops (again, sorry) to master the dish at that point, and it made me thrilled about the adventure I had started on. It inspired me to put my chef coat on and do the best I could- something I still try to do every single day in the kitchen.
This recipe is based on the one from Eating Well, with my addition of asparagus in the soufflés and strawberries in the salad.
Enjoy playing with this recipe or better yet, have me cook it for you!
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Soufflés
on a Bed of Mixed Greens
Active Time: 40 minutes
Ingredients for soufflés
- • 1 Bunch of Asparagus
- • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- • Fine dry breadcrumbs, (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, or extra-virgin olive oil
- • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
- • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- • 1/4 teaspoon salt
- • Pinch of ground Nutmeg
- • White Pepper, to taste
- • 2 large egg yolks
- • 1/2 cup crumbled creamy goat cheese, (2 1/2 ounces)
- • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Ingredients for salad & dressing
- • 1 clove garlic, halved
- • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- • 1 teaspoon honey
- • 1/4 teaspoon salt
- • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- • 8 cups lightly packed mixed salad greens
- • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, (2 1/2 ounces)
- • Fresh Strawberries, sliced
- Fill a large skillet with 1 inch of hot water, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add asparagus. Partially cover and cook the asparagus until tender-crisp, about3 minutes. Drain; refresh under cold water. Blot the asparagus dry with a clean kitchen towel, then cut into 1/4-inch slices.
- To prepare soufflés: Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Coat four 6-ounce (1 cup) ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray. Lightly coat with breadcrumbs; shake out excess. Put a kettle of water on to boil for the water bath.
- Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in a small saucepan over low heat; stir in flour. Cook,stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils. Reduce heat to low and simmer,whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes. Stir in mustard, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Remove from the heat. The sauce will be very thick.
- Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl until blended. Whisk in the sauce until blended.Gently stir in goat cheese and asparagus.
- Place egg whites in a large clean bowl. Add cream of tartar. Beat the whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form; increase speed to high and continue beating until stiff and glossy peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold whites in 3 additions into the cheese sauce until blended.
- Spoon the soufflé mixture into the prepared ramekins. Run a fingertip (or chopstick)around the inside of the rim so the soufflés will form a high hat as they puff up. Place the ramekins in a baking pan.
- Place the baking pan in the oven and carefully add enough boiling water to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the soufflés until puffed and browned, 25 to 30minutes.
- Meanwhile, to prepare salad dressing: Rub a large bowl with the cut side of the garlic;discard garlic. Add lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper; whisk to blend. When the soufflés are ready, add salad greens to the bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Add the cut strawberries. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Using awide spatula, place a warm soufflé in the center of each salad. Serve immediately.